YouTube claims to be the world’s biggest jukebox — and now it wants to wring more ad dollars from the platform’s music fans.
The video giant is launching 15-second audio ads, the first format designed to reach YouTube users who listen to music or podcasts ambiently (i.e., in the background). YouTube also is introducing the ability for advertisers make buys across dynamic music lineups, including the Top 100 charts by country and collections of channels in popular genres such as Latin, K-pop, country, rap and hip-hop. Marketers also can buy ads targeted by moods or interests like fitness or relaxation/meditation.
YouTube expects the moves to boost ad revenue it generates from music on the platform, which includes over 70 million official tracks plus remixes, live performances, covers and other music content. And it stands to put YouTube in more head-to-head competition with Spotify, which has been selling audio-only ads and offering targeting by music genres for years.
Lyor Cohen, global head of music for YouTube, positioned the new ad push as “trying to help artists in the industry earn more revenue from ads – period.” YouTube’s focus on increasing advertising revenue for music content ultimately benefits its record label partners and their artists, he said.
“Subscription revenue is important, and now [music companies] understand the advertising opportunity,” said Cohen. “They love that we’re building muscle on both sides.”
In the pitch to Madison Avenue, YouTube touts massive scale. It says over 2 billion logged-in viewers watch at least one music video each month and that more than 50% of those who consume music content in a day listen or watch more than 10 minutes daily.
Video is still the largest category for YouTube: 85% of music consumption on the platform is in the foreground (i.e., with video playing on a device). But that remaining 15% is a ripe opportunity for marketers to tap into audio ads, said Adam Stewart, YouTube’s VP of sales.
“If someone is on a playlist and doesn’t have their video up, this is a better user experience,” Stewart said. YouTube has “always been a place for marketers to get incremental reach, and this is an extension of what we’ve been.”
YouTube says audio ads are now in beta, available via auction on Google Ads and Display & Video 360 on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis with the same audience-targeting and other options as video campaigns. With audio ads, the visual component is typically a still image or simple animation; similar to YouTube in-stream video ads, they include clickable areas to link to their website.
The company claims early tests of audio ad campaigns on YouTube have driven significant lift in brand awareness. Shutterfly, for example, saw 14% ad recall lift and a 2% favorability lift among its target audience using YouTube audio ads. Overall, in tests run from June 2019-March 2020, YouTube found that more than 75% of measured audio ad campaigns drove a “significant lift” in brand awareness.
Meanwhile, the option to place ads against YouTube’s dynamic music lineups is in addition to the YouTube Select Music Lineup, which consists of the top 5% of premium music content across the service globally.
Here are some of YouTube’s global music lineups, with sample music artists or channels that are included in each one:
- Rap & Hip-Hop: Drake, Big Sean, Logic
- Latin Pop and Hip-Hop Amplified: Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Shakira
- K-Pop Amplified: Blackpink, BTS, EXO
- Rock Music: The Beatles, The Killers, Foo Fighters
- Pop Music: Coldplay, One Direction, Kelly Clarkson
- Country Music: Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Kelsea Ballerini
- Brazil Country Music (Sertanejo): Marília Mendonça, Gusttavo Lima, Bruno e Marrone
- Fitness & Workout Music: 7Clouds, Prepix Dance Studio, Calvin Harris, Madonna